The weather’s getting nicer but for so many people aged between 14 – 24 we aren’t quite ready to ditch the textbook and cover ourselves in sunblock and shades to embrace the warm weather. I posted recently about some tips I’ve found really handy for maximising your revision period. This post more focusses on looking after yourself and well being during revision and exam period. While it is important that we push ourselves to maximise how much we get out of our exams and assessments it is equally important that we look after ourselves mentally and physically during this time. You can put in 100% effort to your revision notes and tests but if you aren’t looking after yourself then you aren’t going to do as well. So here are 5 steps you can take to look after your sanity and soul:
- Don’t overload on Caffeine and Sugar
We all do it, it keeps us alert or gives us a boost when we are on slide 47 of 123 and yawning with every other bullet point. But as much as they are handy in moderation the boost they give us is synthetic and short lived. This time of year is stressful for all of us and caffeine and sugar can exacerbate these effects. They also keep you up and night stopping your body from getting the time it needs to recharge. It is so easy to become dependent, they are addictive and helpful to stay alert, but you should also be aware that the longer you binge on them the less of an effect the are going to have. Save their use for when you need them the most and remember everything in moderation. Trying having more natural foods for energy; oats, bananas or nuts can all give you an added and more long-term boost.
- Make sure you are the right amount of sleep
We have all heard this a million times but cannot be overstated. For a lot of you doing your GCSEs or A-levels, this will be your first unstructured self-study time. So it’s super important to understand the importance of sleep for a well-functioning and productive brain. Scientists tend to say around 8 hours, Personally, I think I function at my best around 7ish but it will vary from person to person. Too little sleep doesn’t allow your body to recharge, although revision isn’t the most physically strenuous it is a workout for the mind so it is important that you rest up every day. Additionally, it is key to remember that too much sleep can slow us down too, sleeping in till midday is great occasionally but if done frequently will slow you down and absorb your energy. I personally have found that part of becoming an adult is knowing that while you may not have a bedtime you could certainly benefit from one.
- Celebrate the little victories
Depending on what you are revising for this period of exams could last 2 weeks or 2 months, but regardless it always feels endless. One of the most difficult parts can be coming out of an exam with 5 more still to go, especially if it didn’t go all that well. This is where you need to realise that regardless of what it says in your results envelope you achieved something here. Every exam you come out of, every full day of revision you complete is an achievement to be proud of. You can mark this by ticking off a to-do list, treating yourself to a tasty snack, a relaxing bath or a Netflix break. Results are all well and good, they are even important in a lot of cases but the achievement is in the effort, commitment and perseverance that you are giving to your studies. Remember that.
- Keep up personal care
Again this goes back to unstructured study time. So much of our mental state can be taken back to our physical upkeep. Make sure you are showering regularly, getting dressed, leaving the house even just for short walks. Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle because looking after yourself physically is a huge component of a healthy brain. For some people, this will go without saying but it is important to remind ourselves. Life doesn’t stop because we are revising, it is more important than ever to make sure that we are looking after ourselves, check your priorities if you expect your brain to help you get results, your brain expects you to look after yourself.
- Stop. Take a breath. Think about what you want to get out of this.
We push ourselves and stress ourselves out about achieving certain goals, getting the right results for the right schools or certain careers. We panic and freak and push ourselves ridiculously hard. But it is so so easy to forget why we are doing it. In my experience, I work so much harder when I stop to think where these exams could get me. I mean don’t freak yourself out about it, but remember why you are pushing yourself this hard, the career you want or school you are dreaming off. The journey can be so much more bearable with a destination in sight.
And please remember that this too shall pass. Exams aren’t forever, revision isn’t everything and all anyone can ever ask or expect of you is your best. Work hard, look after yourself and keep going. Remembering it is the effort that you put in that matters, be proud that you pushed yourself and reward yourself for trying regardless of results.
I hope you all work hard and I wish you prosperous revision, rewarding exams and a kick arse summer that makes it all worthwhile. (Also very much still in revision mode myself so let me know if you have any soul saving hacks to keep me going)